Why Did Jesus Die?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to die? If you haven’t pondered the question, you are missing the crux of Christianity. It is at the cross of Christ that God’s justice and mercy meet.

One of the tragedies of being human is that we sin. We all do what we should not do and fail to do what God requires, our conscience testifies. People usually respond by saying, “Well, everyone does what they shouldn’t do. Nobody is perfect.” I completely agree with that statement, but that does not change God’s standard– “be perfect therefore as I am perfect” (Mat. 5). The prevalence of sin does not obligate God to lower His standard for humanity. On the contrary, the bar remains ever the same, for God is unchanging. This presents a problem for humanity, how is sin reconciled before the God whose standard is unchanging?

As human beings, when we show mercy to people, it is always at the expense of justice. Someone deserves a certain consequence or punishment for injustice, however for mercy’s sake it is withheld. We don’t pour out what a person rightfully deserves. Justice is sacrificed at the expense of mercy.

God does not dispense mercy at the expense of justice like we do. If God chose to “simply forgive sin” He would cease to be God. The very essence of being God is His holiness. He must punish sin. If an earthly judge just let prisoners run rampant because he wanted to be merciful that would be unspeakable. It would be a gross violation of justice. If that’s the standard for a mere earthly judge, how much more holy must God be? As the prophet Habakkuk states, “His eyes are too pure as to behold evil.” God will not sacrifice justice for mercy.

Every individual’s sin demands payment, and God desires that no one be separated from Him. He reconciles the tension through Jesus. It is at the cross of Christ that God can be both just and merciful. The Lord bore the sins of the world so that those who believe in Him could have everlasting life. The cross is the only foundation on which any person stands before God; it is where the righteous demands of the law are satisfied. Acceptance before God is not found in what you do, rather it based solely on the finished work of Christ. (That’s why no one can boast it is all of grace. If you work for it then there is boasting, but if it is a gift boasting is void.) If salvation could be achieved through what we do, then Jesus Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2).

On the cross, Jesus experienced the full wrath of the Father. Christ paid the penalty of sin for each and every individual, so that those who believe in Him alone through faith could be saved (Eph. 2). “By a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 9). It is a gift to be received for those who recognize their need for a Savior.

Only at the cross is justice satisfied and mercy offered to those who believe in Him.

How deep the Father’s love for us,

how vast beyond all measure

that He would give His only Son

and make a wretch His treasure.


7 thoughts on “Why Did Jesus Die?”

  1. I believe that the cross resulted in much more than a clean slate. It also meant the end of sin as prophesied in Daniel 9:24. However, this aspect of the cross was either intentionally or unintentionally kept from us. Without this understanding, I believed I was saved but thought I was bound to sin for the rest of my life. Even calling myself at times a born again sinner. However, as you rightly stated in another article entitled ARE CHRISTIANS WHO DISAPPROVE OF HOMOSEXUALITY BIGOTS?, [Jesus] died for the sins of world, so that men and women in bondage to sin could be free and live in newness of life. I’m living this freedom experience, not that I don’t slip up here or there in my speech and attitude when faced with certain circumstances but the vice that kept the accuser of the brethern in God’s ear day and night, is not my master anymore. I’m 34 years old, accepted Christ when I was six and thought that I would be afflicted with sin’s demands. But the cross represents work done on my behalf. Whoever believes in Jesus is taken from death to new life. The old man is dead. Now, I felt an the internal shaking when I wrote those words “the old man is dead”, I hear the enemy ask, “For how long?” but believe from moment to moment that Jesus has saved me, I’ll live a redeemed life as I’ve been living it up to this point from the time I’ve truly put my faith into action. I just want other Christians to know that the cross means more than a ticket to heaven, it means an opportunity to express God’s righteousness in the earth. What do I mean by righteousness? What it doesn’t mean is me acting like I got everything together and that I’m too good to be seen with certain people. Instead, righteousness is the expression of God’s good will toward a broken and lost world. Now that I’m not in the perpetual cycle of sinning and repenting, I can see more clearly what God wants done in the lives of others around me. Sounds crazy huh?

    1. Thank you for commenting! I’m so encouraged by your testimony.

      It’s good news indeed that we’re freed not only from the penalty of sin, but also its power. Through the Holy Spirit, believers in Christ can be transformed and “walk by the Spirit and not fulfill the desires of the flesh.” I think you’re right in saying that sometimes people view the cross merely as a “ticket into heaven.” But I find it encouraging that as they grow in their walk, a realization eventually occurs of how much more has been accomplished by that “one atoning sacrifice.”

      As we recognize what Jesus has done on our behalf, we become empowered to live in holiness and impact this world for Him. This happens not to “earn” God’s acceptance, but because we already have it in Jesus—and that recognition changes everything.

      To non-Christians who don’t know Jesus, our message does sound crazy. But I always find it comforting to know that it’s God who reconciles individuals to Himself, and I just get to participate.

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